Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Guru's Roundup: Drexel and Rider Get New Year Wins

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – The West Philadelphia duo of Drexel at home and Penn out West  got off to a successful New Year’s start on Monday but a little to the south things did not go as well at Delaware.

Since this is the first time since before the weekend your Guru is addressing everything, New Year’s Day saw Temple take a thrilling overtime win at Memphis to start play in the American Athletic Conference while La Salle’s win streak got halted at VCU in the Explorer’s Atlantic 10 opener.

On New Year’s Eve out West, Penn got its two-game road swing to a winning start before extending the trip to a sweep to build momentum to the Quakers’ next event – that would be Saturday opening Ivy play Princeton on the road at Jadwin Gym.

Saint Joseph’s continued to struggle and fell at Richmond in the Hawks’ Atlantic 10 opener, while Princeton picked up a win at Lipscomb in Nashville and Rutgers awakened to top visiting Penn State and even things up in the first two games of Big Ten play while the Lady Lions are still looking for their first conference triumph of the season.

On Friday at home Villanova got destroyed by DePaul at the Pavilion and as a result of the Big East win, the Blue Demons returned to the rankings Monday and then had to rally to beat Providence later at night in the Big. East.

Also on Friday, Rider struggled early and a rally fell short at home against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference heavyweight Quinnipiac but the Broncs showed Monday night they might be real after thumping a conference elite squad at home hosting Iona.

All that said, let us go begin to play catch-up and then look ahead.

Drexel Streak Continues Into Conference Opener

While the Dragons veterans have been the mainstays in the current overall win streak that is now at six straight after applying the brakes to Towson for the 16th straight time,  the dose of youth on the Drexel roster shined in a 58-48 win at the Daskalakis Athletic Center to get off on the right, though a little bit shaky, launch to begin play in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Freshman Ana Ferariu, who wowed everyone with her debut playing significant minutes late last month off the bench to beat Saint Joseph’s, has shown that performance to be no fluke as she picked up 17 points while Bailey Greenberg, the Archbishop Wood grad and member of the basketball family of men’s and women’s stars who played at La Salle, scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Veteran Kelsi Lidge had six points and eight rebounds while dealing four assists and grabbing two steals. All ten of Meghan Creighton’s points came in the second half but a steady streak of 201 minutes without a turnover ended with a turnover early in the third period, her first miscue since making one at Cornell on Dec. 3.

Sarah Curran, who lit up the Dragons’ two-game sweep in Florida International’s invitational last week to earn CAA player of the week honors on Monday, scored just four points.

By the way, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney may not be an overall women’s basketball fan but he is true to his Neumann-Goretti alma mater and when alums come to town with teams making homecoming appearances, he likewise drops by as last week when James Madison was at Saint Joseph’s and Monday afternoon when sophomores Sianni Martin and AJ Timbers were with the Tigers.

Martin and Raven Bankston each scored 11 for Towson.

Drexel (10-2, 1-0 CAA), off to a program record start, built an 18-point lead midway through the fourth period and then had all but the last possible double digital differential sliced off by the Tigers (7-5, 0-1).

The uneven play did not thrill Drexel coach Denise Dillon, who will still gladly take the W but is ready to retool for Friday night’s 7 p.m. visit from Elon, picked second behind James Madison and just ahead of Drexel back in the fall preseason conference coaches vote.

"We came out flat and not with a purpose that we need,” Dillon gave her postgame assessment. “We did not get better today.

“We know we are going to have games where we struggle to score the ball. We always talk about the our defense as the go to.”

Greenberg's 13 were her best to date, matching a previous points harvesting to 13 but Monday she 6-for-6 from the floor.

“Our two main scorers were Ana and Bailey,” Dillon said. “For them to create shots for themselves is refreshing for this team.”

Penn Completes West Coast Sweep

After a 47-36 win at Cal-State Northridge Friday night, the Quakers (6-4) went on to top UC Riverside 71-55 on Monday night.

In the first game, Sydney Stipanovitch picked yp her 33rd career double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Princess Aghayere gained a career mark scoring 13 points while also grabbing eight rebounds.

In Monday’s  game Penn tied a program record in the coach Mike McLaughlin era with 12 connected three-pointers off 26 attempts as Phoebe Sterba got five off six attempts from beyond the arc.

Stipanovich got another double double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

On Saturday Penn will start Ivy play visiting Princeton, where they gained their second league crown in three seasons on the final day of league play last March in Jadwyn Gym.

The Tigers have been in a bit of rebuilding after dominating the league the last three years but now Harvard off non-conference play looks like a threat also. Everyone’s goal is simply finish in the top four since the all-new Ivy tourney for men and women launches in Mid-March at The Palestra.

Rider Stuns Iona

The Broncs are now 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the MAAC after taking down defending champion Iona 85-65 at home in Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J., Monday night as Kamila Hoskova scored 22 points against the Gaels (7-6, 2-2).

The big story was a program record 24-0 run across the second and third periods, topping the previous 20-0 surge that was best and came against Army on Dec. 7, 2012.

Stella Johnson, a recent USBWA national rookie of the week,  had 16 points and eight rebounds as she connected on 6-of-7 attempted field goals and all six free throw attempts.

Robin Perkins, named MAAC player of the week earlier in the day for her 33 points Friday night in the loss to Quinnipiac, scored 12 and grabbed seven rebounds, while Julia Duggan scored 11.

Iona’s Philicea Atkins-Gilmore had 20 for Iona while Alexis Lewis had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“We’re very pleased to protect our home court and beat a team like Iona,” who is our defending champion,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said afterwards. “I think it was something we were focused on – we came up short against Quinnipiac, but to be really locked in and make sure we got this split at home.

“I thought we did a good job getting certain people certain looks, running our offense, knowing the looks that we thought we could get and I thought we came through with that. We made some shots,” she continued. “I thought our defense was a little bit better to start the third quarter. I thought we came out with a lot more energy in the third quarter to get some good stops.”

Next up is a MAAC trip to Manhattan Thursday playing at 5 p.m. at Draddy Gym and the game is set to air on ESPN3.

Delaware Falls to William & Mary

In the other local game of note, things didn’t go well for Delaware, which dropped its CAA opener at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to William & Mary 60-49, extending the current losing streak to three games and leaving the Blue Hens at 6-6 overall after getting off to a 4-0 start.

The visiting Tribe (11-1, 1-0 CAA) topped the Blue Hens, 17-0 off the bench and forced them into 18 turnovers which was converted into 25 points.

Delaware’s downfall came across the second and third quarters, scoring just 12 points and shooting 4-for-24 in that span for a 16.7 percentage.

Nicole Enabosi  had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Delaware, while Sade Chatman had 16 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of play.

The Tribe has won 11 straight since dropping its opener to St. John’s in mid-November.

“Right now our struggles are on the offensive end of the floor,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “We have to take care of the ball and make shots when the opportunity presents itself. Between turnovers and shot percentage, we have got to get better. We’r going through some growing pains right now, but we’ll continue to work hard.”

Showing some bravado and resolve, Chatman noted, “You don’t win a conference championship with the first game and we’re going to continue to play hard, no matter what.”

It doesn’t get easier up ahead with a road stop at UNCW Friday morning at 11:30 and then on to Elon Sunday afternoon before hosting league favorite James Madison a week from Friday at 7 p.m.

Temple Tops Memphis in OT and Makes Cardoza Program’s Winningest Coach

Returning to the scene of an NCAA-record-tying five overtime loss to Memphis last March, Temple got under way in the American Athletic Conference re-visiting the Tigers and going into overtime again, but this time the Owls emerged Sunday night  with a 73-67 victory.

The triumph broke the temporary tie Temple’s Tonya Cardoza had shared with her good friend, former Virginia teammate, and predecessor Dawn Staley and made the former longtime aide to Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma as the program’s winningest coach with 173 to make her overall record 173-104.

Staley coached from 2000-08 and Cardoza claimed the new record after just a month longer on the Temple sidelines.

“”Obviously, I’m happy to to break the record, but again, if it wasn’t for Dawn, I wouldn’t be in this position,” Cardoza said. “She helped me get the job, we went to college together, we’re best of friends, so without her it wouldn’t be possible.

“Without Geno this isn’t possible, either. But more importantly, without the players and my coaching staff, it wouldn’t be possible. They’re the ones that go out and do it every single day – it’s their record. I’m just the one that gets to stand out in front of everyone and get acknowledged for the success.”

In Sunday’s game, Temple picked up its fifth straight win to improve to 9-3 overall besides the 1-0 start in the AAC while Memphis fell to 7-7 and 0-1 in the AAC.

The Owls seemed to have the game won in regulation when Alliya Butts nailed a trey with 9.a seconds left but Cheyenne Creighton got the game into overtime with a buzzer-beating in the last weekend.

Temple’s defense clamped down in the extra session, holding the Tigers to 1-for-8 from the field while Feyonda Jefferson and Tanaya Atkinson each scored four points.

Fitzgerald led a contingent of double double performers for the Owls, scoring 19 points, dealing 10 assists, and she also grabbed eight rebounds.

Ruth Sherrill had 11 points and 11 rebounds while Donnaizha Fountain had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Butts scored 16 points and Atkinson scored 12.

“Playing here is always a dogfight, and down the stretch, when we were playing only five guys and we needed all five to step up and make big plays, and they did.”

Temple will stay on the road and go to Atlanta and have a non-conference meeting with Kennesaw State at 2 p.m. Wednesday playing a team coached by Agnus Berenato, the sister of Bernadette McGlade, the Atlantic 10 commissioner.

Taylor Williams of Memphis had a game high 20 points while Brea Elmore added 17 points, and Creighton scored 15.

La Salle Win Streak Ends

The Explorers’ five-game win streak died on New Year’s Day Sunday in Richmond when VCU (8-7, 1-1) took the Atlantic 10 opener for mostly the rest of the way as Curteeona Breelove scored 20 points for the home team.

Adreana Miller had 20 points for La Salle (8-5, 1-1 A-10) while Amy Griffin scored 16, and Jasmine Alston grabbed 11 rebounds.

Next up is a visit from Duquesne on Thursday Night at 7 in the Tom Gola Arena.

Saint Joseph’s Slide Continues

On Saturday, the Hawks tried to shake off last week’s loss at home to James Madison but couldn’t shake hard enough in an Atlantic 10 opening 70-502 loss at Richmond.

The loss by Saint Joseph’s (3-10, 0-1 A-10) marred the program record-setting performance by Adashia Franklyn, who grabbed 25 rebounds. The previous mark of 21 was shared by Trish Brown, Dale Hodges, and Chatilla van Grinsven.

Franklyn, the daughter of Temple all-time great Marilyn Stephens, had 13 defensive boards and 12 offensive rebounds.

The Hawks were without Chelsea Woods, who was seen wearing a boot before the James Madison, and Sarah Veilleux suffered a concussion in the loss to JMU after scoring 10 points.

Lauren Tolson and Micaela Parson each scored 17 points for Richmond (7-7, 1-0), while Saint Joseph’s Alyssa Monaghan had 18 points and Franklyn scored 13.

Next up Saint Joseph's travels to George Washington Wednesday night and then hosts Massachusetts Saturday at 2 p.m.

Princeton Freshman Stars Again

While there has been nostalgic recalls for the wave of Princeton seniors who graduated as the last members of the dominant era, one newcomer has become an important building block for the immediate and long range future.

Bella Alaire had her third double double with 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Tigers to their last non-conference stop, resulting Saturday in a 71-43 win over Lipscomb (3-12) in Nashville.

Princeton suffered an inordinate 6-7 record through the stretch.

Vanessa Smith had 12 points while Taylor Brown had nine rebounds.

Next up is the start of Ivy play Saturday as the Tigers hosts the Quakers 4:30 p.m. for the women.

Rutgers Breaks Loose and Topples Penn State

The Scarlet Knights had a 61-45 win over visiting Penn State in a Big Ten game on New Year’s Saturday afternoon at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Both schools have a rivalry dating back to their time in the Atlantic. 10.

In this one, Rutgers (4-11, 1-1 Big Ten) gained control of the contest early to handle the Lady Lions (10-4, 0-2), who will be looking for their first conference win of the season hosting Iowa in the Bryce Jordan Center Tuesday night.

Juniors Kandiss Barber and Shrita Parker each connected with 18 points each for Rutgers.

Redshirt freshman Amari Carter scored a career-high 17 points and the first 11 points of Saturday’s game for Penn State.

Penn State struggled to score in the first quarter before chasing the Scarlet Knights the rest of the way. Peyton Whited scored eight of her 10 points in the second half. Sierra Moore, named a starter for the first time this season and finished with 14 points.

Though Penn State held a lopsided 45-30 rebounding advantage, the Scarlet Knights forced 19 turnovers and mined them into 19 points.

Rutgers next hosts Wisconsin Wednesday night in a Big Ten game at 7 p.m.

Villanova Downed by DePaul

With memories of a recent visit and wipeout in a non-conference game to Temple across town fresh in their minds, the Blue Demons on Friday night visited Villanova in a Big East matchup and took no prisoners, even while missing three starters, including conference preseason player of the year Jessica January, who suffered a right broken index finger in the previous game at Georgetown.

The Blue Demons posted an 80-50 win which enabled them to regain the Associated Press women’s poll.

Villanova fell to 4-8 overall and 0-2 in the conference while DePaul, prior to Monday night’s rally at Providence, improved to 10-4 and 2-0 in the league. They are picked to win it all.

Jannah Tucker had 17 points for the Wildcats and shot 5-of-9 three-pointers while DePaul’s Brooke Schulte had 23 points while Jacqui Grant had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Villanova next hosts Georgetown Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

And that catches you all up.



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